Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any fish?” They answered Him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after He was raised from the dead. John 21: 4-14 (From the Tenth Eothinon Gospel of Sunday Orthros) Saturday of the 3rd Week of Pascha-Feast of Sts. Constantine and Helen
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
When Jesus called the first Disciples, He called common fishermen. Why fishermen? First, Jesus called “common men” to be His Disciples. He didn’t choose from the extremely educated, extremely wealthy, or extremely popular. He chose from the extreme common. Because His message is for all, even the extremely common. In fact, the fishermen he chose weren’t even very good fishermen. Several times in the scriptures, they had to admit to Jesus that they were toiling at their nets and not catching anything.
Fishermen, however, had a few special attributes. First, they were not afraid to work in adverse conditions—at night, in the dark, in the cold, because that’s when the fish were biting. Second, they were not afraid to fail. Every time they told Jesus that they had caught nothing, they were still out on the sea working, they were not on the dock complaining or moping. And third, they were open to suggestions for improvement. Every time Jesus told them to cast the net again, or cast it on the right side of the boat, they never questioned Him. And each time they did what He suggested, their faith was rewarded. Jesus told them when He first called them from their boats that He was going to make them “fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Never did they ask “what is that?” Nor did they think the idea of leaving everything and following for this new job was an absurd idea. Finally, when they did as Jesus suggested, they found that their nets were filled with fish, more so than they were even prepared to handle. And when Jesus sent them out into the world to catch fish, after Pentecost, they found their nets were filled with new Christians on a regular basis.
We would do well to learn from the example of these “fishermen.” The first thing we need in order to be a “fisher of men” is humility. If education, wealth or popularity is the end goal, we are not going to make it as a “fisher of men.” As we learn from the disciples, it is not hard work that God is after. It is “heart” work that God wants.
Second, we need to put aside fear and be ready to work for Christ even in adverse situations—like when it isn’t popular, or when the “fish” (other people) are not biting (encouraging or coming to the Christian message). Third, we can’t be afraid to fail. Being a disciple is going to have its moments of success but it is also going to have its moments of failure. There will always be people who do not want to hear the message, so we have to get used to not having it be easy. Fourth, we have to continually work to “improve our craft.” There are many people who don’t have the desire to better themselves when it comes to their understanding of the Christian faith. The Bible and the church through the priests, through other people, through other circumstances, continually encourages us to become stronger in our faith, so that we can become not only more committed Christians but more effective fishermen.
On the Sea of Tiberias, the sons of Zebedee, Nathaniel and Peter, and two other disciples of old were fishing with Thomas. At Christ’s command they cast their nets on the right side and drew in a multitude of fish. Then Peter recognized Him and cast himself after Him. When He appeared to them a third time, He showed them bread and fish upon live coals. (Exapostelarion of the 10th Eothinon, Trans. by Holy Cross Seminary Press)
Go “fishing” today!
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